8 Laundromat Tips to Follow Before You Go

A few hacks to sharing communal laundry facilities

Laundromat with washing machines and tiled floor

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Going to a laundromat or a public laundry room in your apartment complex or dorm is one of those essential tasks in life. However, there are ways to make laundry trips quicker, safer, easier, and even less costly. Learn these top laundromat tips to get the best results.

  • 01 of 08

    Sort Your Laundry at Home

    Clothes sorted in separate white and black laundry mesh bags for laundromat

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    If you sort your laundry at home, you'll save time and have more workspace than at the laundromat. You'll arrive at the laundromat feeling more organized and you'll be able to immediately grab machines and get the loads underway.

    Use pillowcases or different colored laundry bags for the sorted white and dark clothes for each load.

    Another way to save time; have plenty of the correct change. Change machines are often broken and your fellow users may not have the change to share. Prepare before you go!

  • 02 of 08

    Take Your Own Detergent

    Powdered detergent kept in plastic bags to transport to laundromat next to white scoop

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    You may already have chosen a favorite detergent but it's in a package that's too bulky or heavy to bring to the laundromat. The single-use detergent packs sold at laundromats typically cost more than double what you pay per load for products brought from home so take your detergent and other products with you.

    While large containers of detergent are often the most cost-effective solution, there is no need to haul large containers on each trip to the laundry room. If you prefer using a powdered detergent formula, scoop the correct amount for each load into small plastic bags that you press to seal. Liquid detergents or fabric softeners can go in small plastic container with tight lids. Take a measuring cup so you dose out an accurate amount of detergent.

    You can also opt for single-dose detergents such as pods. They are more expensive per load, but the convenience is unmatched, and much less expensive than if you purchase them at the laundromat.

  • 03 of 08

    Check the Washer and Dryer Before Using

    Old blue rag wiping down washing machine before using

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    Laundromat washers and dryers get a huge workout which means you need to inspect them before handing over your clothing to them. If the appliance is stained or dirty or not working correctly, be a good Samaritan and clean it up or at least report the problem to the manager. However, not every laundromat has an attendant on duty at all times, or a cleaning crew may come in once a day to attend to appliances. So it may be up to you to keep your laundry safe. Here are important tips to follow at the laundromat:

    • Clean the surfaces: Before you set clothes on top of the washer, dryer, or table make sure the surface is clean. Always keep an old rag or towel and disinfectant wipes or spray with you for a wipe-down. At best, you'll get a sticky detergent residue. At worst, you'll find chlorine bleach that will permanently ruin your clothes.
    • Check for melted/leaked items: Take a second and look inside appliances. You never know what the last person left in the washer or dryer and you don't want to have to deal with the aftermath on your laundry. For example, you may find a tube of lipstick or ballpoint pen that was accidentally left in a pocket that stained the washer or dryer. (Remember to empty the pockets of your laundry, too.)
    • Remove random laundry: You may also find leftover clothing. Just one red sock can bleed onto an entire load of clothes. Remove the clothing and leave it in the laundromat's lost-and-found bin. 
    • Check the settings: Before you hit start, check the machine's settings. The last thing you need is a load of delicate lingerie traveling through hot water and the heavy-duty cycle that the last person used.
    • Take a sniff test: Before putting laundry into either a washer or dryer, smell the interior of the drum. If there's a hint of a strange or unusual odor, move on to the next appliance. An odor could also mean that mold or mildew is lurking somewhere in the appliance.
    • Empty dispensers: Check the washer's automatic bleach dispenser to make sure it's empty and dry. If not, use a paper towel to soak up any leftover bleach.

    Tip

    Smell inside the appliance because you may be able to detect if bleach was used.

  • 04 of 08

    Use the Dryers Wisely

    Lint trap cleaned and inserted back into dryer in laundromat

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    Before you start the dryer make sure the lint trap is clean. You'll prevent fires and your clothes will dry faster, saving you money.

    As you load the clothes into the dryer, fluff each piece of clothing by giving it a quick shake. The clothes will dry more quickly and with fewer wrinkles. Be sure you get everything in the dryer before you start it up. Opening and closing the door loses heat and time.

    Now that you've spent all that money and time getting those clothes dry, be sure they arrive home that way. Keep a large black plastic bag with your laundry supplies just in case you encounter rain on the way home.

    Tip

    Find a warm dryer because starting with a dryer that is already warm will get those clothes done more quickly.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Use Smart Phone Laundry Apps

    Smart phone laundry app to keep track of laundromat cycles

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    Smartphone and other mobile device laundry applications can help you find a laundromat, translate care labels, and treat stains with helpful tips. Laundromats are the perfect place to put them to use.

    One must-have app is a laundry timer so you can run errands or concentrate on something else while your clothes are washing. The app gets you back to the machine when the cycle ends, preventing the disaster of someone else dumping your wet or freshly dried clothes on the floor.

  • 06 of 08

    Go Green

    Front-loading washing machines in laundromat to go green

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

    If you want to reduce your carbon footprint at the laundromat, opt for a front-loading washer instead of a top loader because it uses 50 percent less water. Always wash a full load (you'll save money that way, too), choose a bio-based (plant based) laundry detergent, and use cold water as much as possible. Skip the laundromat dryers and take your clothes home to air-dry.

  • 07 of 08

    Disinfect and Sanitize the Washer and Dryer

    Someone before you may have just washed or dried laundry that came from a household with an illness, athlete's foot, or was covered with poison ivy oils, pesticides, chemicals, or bodily fluids, like blood or vomit. Or, you may have similar problems with your own laundry and may need some reminders on how to handle these issues when using a communal laundry.

    Normal washing of clothing reduces the risk of spreading germs and viruses, but disinfecting and sanitizing appliances and laundry adds a layer of safety. Here are a few tips to make sure your laundry stays as safe as possible at the laundromat:

    • Pretreat your laundry with a fabric sanitizer, or add a laundry sanitizing product to your wash cycle (read the label to determine when to use it).
    • Run a disinfectant wipe around the washer door handle, door rim, and drum before inserting your laundry.
    • Consider laundering your whites separately at the laundromat rather than using one large machine for everything. That way you can safely use the disinfecting duo of chlorine bleach and hot water for your batch of whites.
    • Use the hottest water your laundry can tolerate in the wash cycle.
    • Dry your laundry on the hottest cycle your laundry can tolerate.
  • 08 of 08

    Minimize the Risk of Bedbugs

    Unfortunately, bedbugs are a fact of life and they could hitch a ride to the laundromat. Besides taking advantage of hot water and hot dryer settings, here are a few more tips to minimize the risk of catching bedbugs from the laundromat:

    • Visually inspect tables and inside appliances to see if you spot anything unusual or moving around. Shine your phone's flashlight into the drum to see better.
    • Do not put your laundry basket on the floor of a laundromat to reduce the risk of picking up bedbugs underfoot.
    • Avoid folding your laundry at the laundromat to bypass any problems lingering on table surfaces.
    • Check the pockets and folds of your clothing when you take them out of the dryer. Bedbugs are smaller than apple seeds and love to hide in hidden spots,
    • If you use a communal laundry, stay vigilant at home watching out for bedbugs.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. How To Prevent Dryer Fires. Consumer Reports.

  2. Water Efficiency Management Guide Residential Kitchen and Laundry. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  3. Environmental Protection Control Guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.